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United Nations: Fishing Treaty Approved

(Dec. 1, 2009) On November 25, 2009, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced its approval of a new treaty designed to close ports to illegal fishing ships. The Agreement on Port State Measures to Prevent, Deter, and Eliminate Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing will become effective when ratified by 25 nations. FAO Assistant-Director-General for Fisheries Ichiro Nomura called the accord “a milestone achievement.” (UN Agency Approves Groundbreaking Treaty to Wipe Out Illegal Fishing; UN NEWS CENTRE, Nov. 25, 2009, available at

Under the agreement, governments will be committed to preventing, deterring, and if possible eliminating illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing (known as IUU). Ports are to be guarded against vessels engaged in IUU activities, which will prevent the fish caught in such a manner from being sold around the world. The new accord was signed immediately following its FAO approval by Angola, Brazil, Chile, the European Commission, Indonesia, Iceland, Norway, Samoa, Sierra Leone, the United States, and Uruguay, all of which are FAO members. (Id.; see also Constance A. Johnson, United Nations: Pirate Fishing Agreement Drafted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR, Sept. 9, 2009, available at

IUU fishing brings harm to fisheries because such operations are without authorization, they catch protected species or take more than is permitted under fishing quotas, and they may use outlawed gear. Nomura went on to laud the new treaty, saying:

No longer will we solely rely on the ability of fishing nations to monitor behaviour by vessels flying their flags on the open waters of the oceans. Now countries are committing to taking steps to identify, report and deny entry to offenders at ports where fishing fleets are received. That's a key back door that will be slammed shut with the new international treaty. (UN NEWS CENTRE, supra.)